A Crossing of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Fort Worth & Denver, and the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railroads
Above: John W Barriger III snapped this photo from the rear platform of his business car as he passed Tower 29 sometime in the 1930's or early 1940's. His train was northbound on the Rock Island and the view is to the southeast shortly after crossing the Santa Fe diamond.
Just north of Ft. Worth sits the town of Saginaw, named in 1882 for the more well-known city in Michigan, the hometown of a local landowner. That same year, the Fort Worth & Denver City Railroad (later renamed Fort Worth & Denver, FW&D) built through Saginaw as they began construction of their main line north from Fort Worth. In 1887, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe passed through Saginaw and crossed the FW&D tracks as they built a line from Fort Worth to Purcell, Indian Territory. This route was constructed to connect with their new parent company, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. In 1894, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (RI) built into Fort Worth from the north, passing through Saginaw at the existing crossing of the other two railroads. The Railroad Commission of Texas authorized Tower 29 at the Saginaw junction on October 31, 1903.
Comments from Rock Island locomotive engineer Joe Rayburn:
"Tower 29 was a Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific tower. The sign on the south face of the tower has either faded or been touched up, but there was a Rock Island emblem there. Being a Rock Island tower, it was operated by RI personnel. I've been up in it many times when being held there for congestion. The Operator that worked the tower had phone access to all three Dispatchers ... RI, Santa Fe, and FWD ... and he handled and delivered train orders to all three railroads. Santa Fe crossed the RI and FWD at this tower and continued on practically due north toward Gainesville. RI turned back toward the Northwest and paralleled the FWD for about 7 miles to just north of Hicks."
Website reader Willie Kirby writes:
"I had the job of removing the equipment in Tower 29. The Order board on the Rock Island went to the Texas State Railroad and I have the two order board levers with "North" & "South" marked on them. The Texas State RR got a lot of the equipment. When I finished the removal part, the Burlington Northern Railroad sent a person out to burn the tower down. Somebody beat me to the "scissor phone". It was about 1985 or 1986 when I completed the job."
Tower 29 was closed and torn down in March, 1985. Today, the former Rock Island line is operated by Union Pacific; the other two are operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
|Above: east face of the tower with a southbound Santa Fe (Myron Malone, April, 1983)||Above: west face of Tower 29 (Myron Malone, November, 1978)|
Below: Undated photo of "Saginaw Tower" from the collection of Mark Nerren
Below: Undated photo by Robbie Patterson (courtesy of Mark St. Aubin)
Above Left: Northbound Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad freight train passes Tower 29 as AT&SF freight train waits on the horizon in August, 1964. Photo by J. Parker Lamb, (c)2016, Center for Railroad Photography and Art (Lamb-02-073-10). Above Right: Location map for Tower 29
Tower 29 Interior (photos by Con
Above: A local news video from 1976 that discusses the operations at Tower 29 is available on YouTube.